The new school year has begun in Rwanda! This is an exciting time as many of the students are ready to return to school (or start school) after their long break at the end of the following year. For us, it is a busy time of preparations for our students…both the administrative details but also meeting with the students and encouraging them for the year ahead.
We are focused on working with families to partner with them for the benefit of the whole family. With the changes in our program for this year, we are currently sponsoring 29 primary students. We require these students to attend the local government-funded school: Kamashashi Primary School. We pay school fees, buy two uniforms, and provide school materials (backpacks, notebooks, pens) for each student. These little ones are adorable as they eagerly receive their backpack which is sometimes bigger than they are! We are also providing a weekly portion of igikoma (porridge) for each family with students in primary school (read more about this below).
We are also sponsoring the more advanced students in these same families. We currently have 50 students attending secondary or vocational schools. Most of our students who are in their first three years of secondary school attend the local government-funded school: Camp Kanombe. Other students may have scored well on national exams at the end of primary school or at the end of these first three years in secondary and are assigned to various other schools all over the country. Similar to the primary students, we pay for school fees, buy uniforms, provide school materials (also including math sets, calculators, and periodic tables), give personal items (soap, laundry soap, lotion, toothpaste, sanitary pads), and pay for transportation costs to/from school if they are not attending the local school. For those students in boarding school, we also provide a trunk, sheets, blanket, pillow, mosquito net, towel, and mattress to comfortably stay while they are away from home.
I’m excited to see how these students continue to grow and learn in this new year. We will have challenges along the way that become opportunities for growth and counseling as we strive to invest in their lives beyond simply providing school fees. I’m thankful for these opportunities!